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Healthcare can be the business of the future in the MENA region: Iran is opening a brand new Healthcare City, while 70 new Hospitals are needed in the area by 2022

The demographic situation in these regions (where the population grows and ages) combined with the current lack of healthcare facilities makes this area one of the most attractive for investors and healthcare providers over the next 5 years.

An interesting report made by real estate consultancy JLL asserts that in the MENA region the healthcare sector will be one of the fastest growing markets over the next few years. There are a number of reasons for that, such as

  • Growing and aging population: The population of the region is aging quickly. The number of people aged over 65 years is expected to increase by 4.4% per year by 2022. This growth will more than double the one in the overall population (1.9%).
  • Lack of Healthcare facilities: MENA has an average of 1.9 beds per 1,000 population, compared to an OECD average of 4.8 beds. Just to maintain this provision rate the region would require 10,500 additional hospital beds in the next five years (corresponding to 7 hospitals in Dubai, 9 in Abu Dhabi, 15 in Riyadh, 7 in Jeddah, 32 in Cairo). But to reach the current OECD average which is 4.8 beds per 1,000 persons, MENA would require a total of to 3,130 new hospitals.
  • Lifestyle diseases. The Arab population suffers from higher levels of diabetes and obesity than other developed countries. In Saudi Arabia for example, 14% of the population is diabetic. This number is twice the one of other developed countries

Medical Tourism is another interesting factor that is gaining popularity in the region. Though local Health Authorities continue to invest in financing outgoing patients (with 4 billion USD invested by the UAE and an estimated 20 billion USD for all GCC Region), governments are also investing in top-level infrastructure to increase the number of incoming patients. UAE Vision 2021 aims to achieve an ‘exceptional healthcare system, recognizing the need and importance of an open mind and healthy body to achieve future ambitions’.

The government of Dubai has also created a healthcare free-zone, Dubai Healthcare City, to promote the city as a healthcare destination, and its aim is to welcome 500,000 medical tourists by 2020.

Also Abu Dhabi has placed healthcare amongst the nine pillars in its 2030 Economic Vision.

Iran is investing in healthcare business and medical tourism, too. A brand new healthcare city was set up in Isfahan, a city in central Ira. Isfahan Healthcare City  aims to become a widely known international medical complex with world class quality health services. The project is developed on four targets. Phase one, that has been reached so far, includes professional clinics and medical stores. There are currently orthopedic, obstetrics and gynecology clinics, healthy restaurants and wellness centres. Phase two foresees the realization of a center of comprehensive radiation medicine including diagnostic and therapeutic facilities such as MRI, CT scan, full digital radiology, PET. Phase three provides a general health hospital which consists of several professional hospitals and phase four will add a four-star hotel in 12 floors with 12500 square meters of infrastructure. It should become fully operational within 2021.

The structure will take up an area of 300 hectares and intends to serve 3,500 patients a day creating more than 1,500 direct jobs.

Isfahan is the country’s third largest city and one of Iran’s major cultural and economic centers. It is 340 kilometers south of Tehran and it is already attracting many tourists.

The Iranian Ministry of Health registered 105,000 inbound patients, between March 2016 and March 2017, mainly coming from neighboring countries such as Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Gulf states. Isfahan Healthcare City aims to increase this numbers attracting patients not only from the country but also from outside.

Destination Health with its two partners in the region (Royalty Consultants and EMS) can  offer high standard consultancy to all professionals and healthcare providers aiming to invest in the region. Our network develops unique business solutions tailored to clients’ needs, investment and organization. Thanks to a proprietary methodology of the Marketing Ecosystem™ and the adoption of econometric models, we are able to fully measure each strategic activity, build predictive models to optimize future activities and actions and prove our effectiveness on clients’ business.



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